Midi Foot Pedal / Expression Pedal Recommendation

Is anyone using midi foot pedals? I woud like to use an expression pedal to control vst string dynamics and the digital piano I am using it with doesn’t have an expression pedal input. I found a couple USB midi foot pedals which have inputs for the standard 1/4 expression pedals. As I was looking at options, I like the idea of having some buttons in addition to the expression pedal so I can turn on and off difference VSTs with my “foot buttons”. PaintAudio makes one and Hotone makes one. Anyone using any of these with cantabile?

I would add a cheap USB device with an expression pedal input on it - then you have your choice of trusted pedals, such as a Hammond or Yamaha. An MVave Chocolate, or one of its many incarnations, is cheap enough. I’ve found that the pedal input works in reverse, but that’s easily remedied in Cantabile.

Of course you could go for something more sophisticated, such as one of the Morningstar devices (the MC8 is a monster), or a pedal like the Line 6 HX/Helix series. These would add other features that you might find useful, but the cost is rising.

I use these:


They make one with just one input, and one with four inputs.

  • Paul
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Sounds like the Line 6 FBV Express Mark II would fit your needs perfectly. USB output. Has an expression pedal plus four buttons (i map those to Damper pedal, Rotary speed, Next song, and Start/Stop playback).

– Jimbo

PS If you do get one, it can be a bit fussy if connected through a non-powered hub … sometimes needs unplug and replug to get it to connect, but then it all works fine.

I would highly recommend the Roland FC300 Programmable MIDI foot controller. Not the cheapest, but built like a tank and very reliable.

There is a cheaper chinese alternative: https://www.doremidi.cn/h-pd-71.html, I got the previous version with two expressions and two switch, works fine for me. I got it because the MidiExpression were out of stock and the will-be-available date kept getting pushed, and I needed it right away.

Thanks everyone, I knew this forum would have some good ideas. I thought it was strange when I was searching for USB midi pedals that I was not coming up with many options…I hadn’t considered getting into the guitar world of foot pedal controllers. There has been a lot of good ideas. No one has mentioned the PaintAudio Midi Captian which is what I was leaning towards, but I do have a lot more research to do now. Some of my initial thoughts:

  1. Part of me likes keeping it small and just getting one of the midi expression…just a small box with a couple inputs for foot pedals but for growth, I think I would like at least 4 buttons to enable/disable various plugins on the fly.

  2. The Roland FC300 honestly looks really good for the price but it is larger than I was looking for. Right now I bring a backpack witih a laptop and audio interface so would like to not bring something as big as the FC300.

  3. I had looked at the Doremidi boxes on Amazon. The price is great but they didn’t get very good reviews so I had ruled them out. Good to know someone here has used them with success.

  4. I am leaning towards one with just an expression pedal input so I can purchase whatever pedal I want. The line 6 option is interesting though.

  5. The midi expression IO has a 5 pin midi input and output. I’m assuming I could use this to plug a midi controller into? For example some of the audio interfaces don’t have 5 pin midi inputs anymore so could I just plug a keyboard into this and it would essentially act as a 5 pin to USB midi?

-Andrew V. Romero

+1 for AudioFront - these work great and the Rob, the developer, is always improving his products based on user feedback.

If you are into the DIY realm, Arduinos can take expression pedals and foot switches and easily convert to 5-pin DIN MIDI. Then the DIN-MIDI must be converted to USB-MIDI to get into computer with a MIDI-USB interface. Good thing about the Arduino is the footswitch, expression pedals, CC, ranges, etc. can be programmed to what you need.

If you use a Teensy instead of an Arduino, it can act as a USB MIDI interface directly. No need to go through DIN connections. And the Teensy can be programmed with the Arduino toolchain - no need to re-learn anything.

I actually had two delivered yesterday to make a programmable DIN merger-splitter (8INs and 8OUTs). I’ll be sure to try the USB functionality. If that works and is stable, I might get rid of the USB-MIDI interfaces. I’m sure the Teensy can take an expression pedal and/or foot switches and work, too. This the PCB supplier:

All the pins are accessible for other toys.

So far, I have found USB MIDI flawless with the Teensy. First thing is setting the USB Type from “serial” to “MIDI” in the Tools menu.

There’s quite a bit of documentation on using USB MIDI on the PJRC website. What I like about the Teensy is that I can change the name of the USB device to something more meaningful than “Teensy MIDI”…

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If you want it really small but functional look at the Logidy UMI3. And if you want just an expression pedal this Midi Expression Red converts Exp to USB and works really well: MIDI Expression

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I recently rewired my fc-300 to use a single USB cable. The hardest part was mounting the USB jack. I thought that the RJ 45 connector was a standard neutrik style mount. It is actually smaller so I had to enlarge the hole. Vaccum close by while drilling it out. A feed through USB connector with the b-side pointing out. A side to 2-port USB hub. One port to a USB to 9V converter I got from Amazon. End cut off and soldered to the back of the original power connector. Other USB port to a MIO midi USB adapter. Midi ends cut off and soldered to back of original midi jacks. Some double sided tape to hold stuff down. A little silicone over the solder joints. I’m quite happy with it. I may have some pictures of anyone is interested.

I’m currently thinking about how to attach “half damper” pedals permanently to each end and solder to the FP jacks internally.

I specify MIO because I originally bought a cheap off-brand adapter and it could not keep up wth the expression pedals. A few of the expected CC messages then note on messges. Not good.

Disclaimer - I accept no responibilty for you fucking up your fc-300. If any of this sounds difficult, don’t try it.

The Logidy UMI3 is no longer in production.
It’s my go to pedal in my rig and I snapped up 3 of them second hand for backups.
On the other hand, I took a swing at making my own programmable three button midi pedal using a Teensy board. It was educational and fun at the same time and it works like a charm! Luckily I work for TECH 21 NYC and was able to grab a few empty chassis to stick it in.

Interesting. Personally after trying a USB only stage rig, I have decided that USB is not reliable enough on stage. I am reverting to DIN MIDI on all my boards as DIN MIDI has been working flawlessly for 40 years. So far all of my units retain DIN MIDI as an option.

I went to USB MIDI as IO count on my new (in 2017) gig rack was lower (one connection per unit as opposed to two), but I have had too many connection issues - never consistent but they always hit you at the wrong time.

Cable length and cable quality seem a factor agains quality of unit USB, but I cannot find the ideal sweet spot on all units and the worry/stress over it is not worth it, so it will be a MOTU MIDI Express in the Autumn for me and a recabling job,.

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Crap. I just sold my midi express to a local pawn shop. I would have given it to you. It was 2 generations old in my old hardware setup. Replaced by MIO 10 and then MIO XL. All gone in that trip to the pawn shop along with most of my hardware boards and rack units, The MIOs are much better than the Motu in my limited experience.

I currently have 5 USB cables. Laptop to 4-port hub. Hub to Audio interface. Hub to DMC-122, hub to Roli Seaboard, hub to my modified FC-300. Also BT midi to Genki Wave. So far it is solid as a rock. DMC-122 replaced a Native Instruments S61 and Legend solo. The Viscount midi did act up once in a while. Not sure if it was specifically USB mdi. And mostly bus powered so there are just 2 AC power cables.

Admittedly, I am an amateur hobbyist these days. Gigs are few and far between. A few cover tunes once a month at our “church” and the occasional full set or two with my “real” band. “Church” setup is now entirely VST. In process of doing the same in the real band. I will end up keeping just one hardware board (Nord stage 3) for disaster backup and impromptu jams.

This is replacing 2 or 3 hardware keyboards, rack units. a dozen or more midi cables. thick snake from bords to rack. Much setup in MIO or Motu. A Midi Solutions Event processor just to add to the confusion. I’ll never look back. My aging back thanks me.



Hi Tim, I have been a Tech 21 fan since I bought myself the original dip-switch SansAmp in the 90’s. I bought the BDDI when it came out and always use it for bass when live recording and FOH DI. I recently came across the Landmark 300 amp which I thought is very cool, I’ve got an ebay saved search going to see if one pops up. I’ve watched your videos on how you use Tech 21 products which helped me use my BDDI better. Thanks!


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Cool man!!!
Those Landmarks are beasts!!!

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